Simultaneously, the majority of respondents said the government should not reduce its financial support for the production of energy from oil and gas. Only 30 percent think the government should withdraw the funding and incentives it provides to petroleum producers.
The Obama administration has put a high priority on investment in clean renewable energy, and much of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act encourages those industries.
To limit climate change, the Obama administration has indicated it will work with Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions and views the utilization of wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power as key paths to that goal.
To provide hot water and electricity, crews install solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic panels on the roof of a Habitat for Humanity home in Wheatridge, Colorado. (Photo by Pete Beverly courtesy NREL)
The administration also has indicated it would reduce subsidies and add excise taxes on production of oil and gas in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico.
Writing for Gallup, Jeffrey M. Jones said, "Americans largely endorse government efforts to increase alternative energy production through the use of financial support or incentives, directly in line with the Obama administration's stated objectives."
"And though Americans are not as enthusiastic about increasing the government's support for traditional energy production, they also don't want to see a reduction in government support of those efforts," Jones wrote.
Majorities of Democrats (86 percent), independents (79 percent), and Republicans (63 percent) all support renewable energy, the poll found.
About four in 10 Republicans, Democrats, and independents endorse increased government support for oil and gas production, yet the survey shows Republicans are more likely to favor keeping efforts at the current level, and Democrats are more likely to favor a reduction in efforts.
The survey shows that a substantial minority of respondents are concerned about the energy situation - 42 percent describe it as "very serious," down slightly from last year's 46 percent, but at the higher end of what Gallup has measured over the past 10 years.
Americans are about evenly divided on which is more important - environmental protection or energy exploration. Forty-seven percent say the government should emphasize protection while 46 percent say energy development should be a higher priority.
This parity is a departure from the past, as Americans have typically come down on the side of environmental protection by a significant margin in prior Gallup Polls, Jones said.
"It is unclear whether the poor state of the economy has made Americans less willing to do away with traditional energy approaches, but Gallup has found over the years that sentiments in favor of environmental protection wax and wane in response to the health of the economy," wrote Jones.
These findings are based on a Gallup poll conducted March 5-8 and released on Friday. Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,012 adults, aged 18 and older, from across the country on both land-line phones and cell phones.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.